A Week With Bumblebee, A 2017 Jeep Renegade

Most cars are pretty dull colors. White, black, grey, dark blue, those encompass most of what you see on the road, and I’m just as susceptible as the next car buyer too: My last few cars have been white and blue and my current vehicle is, yes, white. Boring, I know. That’s why when I was loaned a bright yellow 2017 Jeep Renegade my first reaction was “Wow!” and, well, my 13yo daughter immediately requested that I pick her up from school in my car, not the Jeep. “Too bright, yikes!” was the gist of her commentary.

And yet, crazy color scheme aside, the Jeep turned out to be a pretty fun vehicle to drive around Boulder, Colorado, Denver and the mountains for a week. A bit underpowered, it still had plenty of luxury appointments in the vehicle itself and the legendary Jeep 4WD features and capabilities. But oh, that color scheme. Let’s start there, shall we? Here’s the exterior of the Renegade in “bumblebee” yellow (actually Jeep calls it “solar yellow”):

2017 jeep renegade yellow

It’s definitely one of the more rugged looking vehicles in the jeep lineup with the bright red tow hooks, bumpy lines and high ground clearance.  All the modern amenities are slipped into this vehicle too, however, including turn indicators on the side view mirrors and roof rack bars as a standard item. The top does not pop off, which was a bit disappointing, but then again it was about 45-55F for the duration of the vehicle loan, so that would have been a tad chilly anyway.

The interior design was reasonable and fairly typical for a Chrysler vehicle in 2017:

2017 jeep renegade interior

But you can see those bright orange (red? dark pumpkin? burnt orange?) color highlights? On a car that’s already a bright yellow? I don’t have a clue what the team designing this color pairing were thinking but you do not want to stare too closely at this vehicle’s color scheme if you have a hangover. 🙂

As is usual, the steering wheel is loaded down with buttons and controls in the 2017 Jeep Renegade, but the dash gauges, while standard, were nicely designed:

2017 jeep renegade dashboard gauges

I particularly liked the “splashed mud” on the tachometer to show where redline would be. One of the few elements that demonstrates a visual wit that’s otherwise lacking in the Renegade. Look more closely above, however, and you’ll notice something that I found surprising: For a small SUV of this class, the Renegade gets pretty poor gas mileage. I saw about 21.9 mpg across a few hundred miles of non-aggressive driving. It’s rated at 21/29, but my driving included a fair amount of highway driving, so as is so often the case, the EPA numbers prove inaccurate.

On the bright side, if you need better traction or want to go off road for a stint, Jeep has you covered with a simple control knob right on the dash:

jeep renegade 4wd modes

Long gone are the days where you needed to get out and tighten the lug nuts to get 4WD enabled on an offroad vehicle. And thank goodness for that! Also note above the AUX input, USB input and 12V “cigarette” plug on the front dash too; I always appreciate when these are front and center since all drives nowadays have their gear and devices!

Jumping out and going around the back, I was pleased with the copious rear storage and cargo space in the Renegade:

trunk space 2017 jeep renegade

Tons of space, even for my daughter’s full size cello. Yes, I did pick her up at school in the Solar Yellow Renegade! Bonus points for the cover too, though having that help you keep your gear safe from prying eyes might well be pointless when the vehicle itself draws so much attention with its gleaming solar yellow paint job.

Back into the driver’s seat, however. The overall design of the dashboard was acceptable, though the GPS navigational system had a design problem that’s always bugged me in car design. As you can see below, there are handy shortcuts to jump between radio, media, navigation, your phone and whatever apps you install:

2017 jeep renegade nav system display

When I push the NAV button, however, I want to go straight to a map view and then use a second tap or action to get to a menu with options like setting a destination. In the Jeep, however, as you can see above, a push on NAV doesn’t get you to a map, but to a place where you have to tap the screen again – perhaps while driving at high speed – so you can view the map. That’s just not a great design and it’d be smart for Chrysler to go back to the drawing board with this particular facet of the system.

Driving the 2017 Renegade was a mixed experience too. I know, a 4WD Jeep designed for both on-road comfort and off-road capabilities isn’t going to be comparable to a high-powered luxury sedan, but its 2.4 litre, 9-speed engine system felt distinctly underpowered when I pushed it at all. Even coming up to speed on the highway took a bit of getted used to because there’s just not quite enough oomph to merge in quickly, nimbly and safely. My guess is that most Jeep drivers are fine with this because they know that in inclement weather their vehicle’s good to go, but I was distinctly underwhelmed with the driving experience itself.

Otherwise, however, while I didn’t find anything I really loved about the 2017 Jeep Renegade, I also didn’t find anything particularly annoying or unacceptable. It’s a solid, worthy compact SUV with generations of off-road vehicle heritage in its DNA and a design that you’re going to either adore or, um, dislike. And oh, that yellow!

AS DRIVEN: 2017 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4×4 with 2.4L I4 MultiAir Engine, 9-speed transmission and optional Cold Weather Group, Passive Entry Remote Start, Safety and Security Group and the 6.5-inch Nav Group with Uconnect. Base MSRP: $26,895. As Driven: $30,630.

Disclosure: Jeep loaned me the 2017 Jeep Renegade for a week in return for this candid review and writeup. The photos and my opinions are my own.

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